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How to Use JavaScript for Backend Development in 2023

How to Use JavaScript for Backend Development

JavaScript is a programming language that allows you to create dynamically updated content, control multimedia, animate images, and do a variety of other things. It was previously known as a client-side language that was used to make websites look more dynamic and interactive. However, in today's world, it is a universal language that can be used for backend development in many ways. Developers use it for server-side programming to create web applications or facilitate development with JavaScript libraries and frameworks.

This article will explore the use of JavaScript for the backend and share some valuable tips for the same.

What is backend development?

The server side of web development where you, the developer, write code to power the web application, is referred to as backend development. The frontend is what the user sees and interacts with while browsing the web. The backend, which typically runs on a web server, is what drives the frontend.

The backend is responsible for the following:

  • Storing and retrieving data from a database
  • Processing data
  • Sending data to the frontend
  • Receiving data from the frontend
  • Managing user sessions
  • Securing the application.

Why JavaScript for backend development?

Backend JavaScript developers use the language to write server-side code. This code is in charge of an application's server-side logic, including database interactions.

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that allows JavaScript code to be executed outside of a web browser. It was introduced in 2009 so that JavaScript could run server-side applications. It is a cross-platform environment built on the V8 JavaScript engine and includes a plethora of libraries and tools to help developers create powerful applications.

Since it is lightweight and efficient, Node.js is popular for backend development. Express.js and Koa.js are two other preferred JavaScript frameworks.

JavaScript has a lot to offer backend developers, thanks to its asynchronous nature, scalability, and speed.

  • Asynchronous programming is a type in which the program does not wait for one task to finish before moving on to the next. This is ideal for backend development because it allows the server to handle multiple requests at once without having to wait for each one to complete before proceeding to the next.

  • Scalability refers to a system's ability to handle increased load. Because it is event-driven, JavaScript is very scalable and can handle a large number of events (requests) without slowing down.

  • Backend development requires speed. As JavaScript is compiled and executed on the server, it does not need to be downloaded and interpreted by the browser.

Getting started with JavaScript for the backend

There are numerous approaches to learning JavaScript for backend development, but one of the simplest is to use a framework like Node.js. A JavaScript library, such as Express.js, is another way to get started. It is a popular choice for developing web applications and includes features like a router and middleware that make it ideal for backend development.

If you want to get started with JavaScript for backend development at a lower level, you can use the Node.js HTTP module. It allows you to create an HTTP server in Node.js and use it to build backend applications.

Use a JavaScript framework

As mentioned, there are many different JavaScript frameworks available which can make backend development simpler and more efficient. We’ll explore them in-depth in the subsequent sections.

Frameworks can be used for various reasons, but the two most common are to save time and to enforce standards. When you use a framework, you are essentially reusing previously written and tested code. You save time because you do not have to start from scratch.

Meanwhile, enforcing standards is advantageous for developers because it eliminates the need to be concerned with minor details. It is also beneficial to users because it means they can expect a consistent experience across multiple applications.

Choose the right database

You'll need to select a database for backend development. MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL are all popular choices for JavaScript developers. Keep in mind that there is no definitive answer to which is the best. Why? Because the ideal database for a given application is determined by a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of the data, the required performance, the amount of money and time available for development, and the developers' preferences.

However, the following general guidelines can assist you in selecting a database for your application:

  • If you require a fast database that can handle large amounts of data, you should consider a relational database like MySQL, Oracle, or Microsoft SQL Server.

  • If you need an easy-to-use database that doesn't require a lot of development time, you might want to consider a NoSQL database like MongoDB or CouchDB.

  • If you require a free and open-source database, you should consider MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB.

Use a build tool

A build tool, such as Webpack or Gulp, can help you automate the process of building and testing your code. This can save you a lot of time and effort.

Learn about microservices

Microservices is a popular architecture for backend development. It involves breaking down a large application into small, independent services, allowing teams to work on them independently.

Javascript server side frameworks.webp

Let’s explore some of the top JavaScript server-side frameworks.

Node.js

When a client requests something from the client side of the application, the request is first sent to the server. Then, some processing or calculations take place in that server to validate the request. Finally, a response is sent to the client side. The Node.js framework is primarily used for all such calculations and processing.

Node.js is used to build I/O-intensive applications such as video streaming sites and online chatting applications, among many others. Numerous established tech giants and newly formed start-ups use the Node.js framework in their operations.

Express.js

Express.js is a lightweight and adaptable Node.js web application framework that offers a comprehensive set of features for web and mobile applications.

Some of the features are as follows:

  • Robust routing - Multiple template engine support
  • HTTP helpers (redirection, caching, etc.)
  • Custom error handling
  • Query and cookie parsing
  • WebSocket support
  • File upload support.

Koa.js

Koa is a Node.js web framework. It is intended to be lightweight with a limited set of core features, making it ideal for developing APIs and web applications. It differs from many other web frameworks in that it does not include any middleware. This gives more flexibility because you can select the middleware that best meets your needs. It also results in a smaller footprint.

If you've used Express, you'll notice that Koa has a similar structure and philosophy. In fact, the two frameworks are frequently compared.

Fastify

Fastify is a Node.js web framework. It is inspired by Hapi and Express and is intended to be quick and easy to use. It employs a schema-based approach, allowing you to define your routes as well as input and output schemas. You can validate your data before it reaches your handlers this way. It is also extensible, which allows you to create your own plugins.

Meteor.js

MeteorJS is a Node.js-based open-source JavaScript web framework. It enables rapid prototyping and generates cross-platform (Android, iOS, and web) code. It integrates with MongoDB and employs the Distributed Data Protocol. It also uses a publish-subscribe pattern to automatically propagate data changes to clients without the developer having to write any synchronization code.

We’ve explored the use of JavaScript for backend development, learned the theoretical aspects of the same, and examined some of the most popular frameworks. There are several benefits to using JavaScript for server-side development, including the large developer community available to assist you, as well as the diverse set of libraries that can be used to accelerate development. Of course, the choice to use JavaScript – or any other language, for that matter – depends on your project’s specific requirements.

Author

  • Author

    Collins Mbathi

    Collins Mbathi is a software engineer and a technical writer with over three years of experience in the field. He has written several articles on software engineering and has been featured in several industry-leading publications. He is passionate about creating software that is both efficient and user-friendly.

Frequently Asked Questions

JavaScript is a very versatile programming language that can be used to develop a wide range of applications. It is also relatively simple to learn, making it a good choice for those just getting started in backend development. If you are already familiar with JavaScript for the frontend and want to dive into the backend, you’ll find it relatively easy.

Node.js is a powerful platform for executing JavaScript applications. Node.js applications are also simple to scale and deploy.

One disadvantage of using JavaScript is that it is difficult to debug and troubleshoot. Furthermore, some users' web browsers may have JavaScript disabled, preventing your application from working properly for them.

One potential disadvantage of using Node.js is the difficulty in finding hosting providers that support it.

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment for running JavaScript code on your server.

A Node.js file is a JavaScript file that contains code that Node.js can execute. It usually consists of functions, objects, and other code that other parts of the application can use. A Node.js module is a functional unit that can be used independently or as part of a larger application. It is usually made up of several Node.js files that can be imported into other Node.js files via the require() function.

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